Our nation observed a moment of silence at 11:00 am this morning to intentionally observe the horrible events of this weekend. I have been keeping silent all morning. It seems I need the silence. I need to be with my thoughts. And especially my prayers.
There are a lot of things about this world that I don’t understand right now. There are people in the church I serve that are struggling with difficult things. There are so-called political matters that don’t make any sense to me. I honestly don’t understand the intense hate that is felt upon so many communities whether they are immigrant or queer. More than anything, I’m not sure I understand the rhetoric that we use in our communication. We are constantly downloading this information. With the evolving social media, it’s not only journalists and experts who are allowed to report. Anyone with access to a computer or a smart phone is invited to the dialogue, but I can’t help but wonder if anyone is listening. There are many voices and many opinions. They are all struggling to be heard. And yet, it seems that there should be some lull. There should be some space when we engage in the action of listening.
I guess that’s why I need silence this morning. I need to listen. I need to hear something divine, but I’m not hearing anything. There is silence dialoguing with my silence. Maybe that’s all God can say right now. Maybe that’s the only reaction that there can be. So, I’m finding myself drift into my thoughts wondering why I rely on this source of wisdom that isn’t responding. (Or at least isn’t responding as I would like.) I wonder about that with moments of silence. I’m familiar with keeping silence in community. I understand its power to be silent together. It’s a witness, but more than that, it’s a prayer. I get confused when we do this nationally because I know it’s not a prayer for many Americans. And yet, since I find myself in that space where God feels absent, I’m not sure there’s much of difference in the silence I’m keeping and the silence we have observed together this morning. Yes, I know. I’m a clergy woman. Still, there’s nothing that says I can’t join that increasing group that identifies as spiritual but not religious. There are indeed clergy in that group as revealed in a Christian Century article a little while ago. I can’t find that article which is annoying me a tad more than God’s silence, but so it is. I remember reading that article in the magazine and thinking that those clergy should just leave their churches. They should give up their vows of ordination. They should move on to something else, but I know it’s more complicated in that.
See, clergy love ritual. We are ordained to make particular rituals like baptism and communion happen, but the church is full of other rituals that are timeless. In churches, we repeat rituals that never change whether that ritual is in the way a particular meeting is run, the ways we bring our children into the faith or the various events that we try to host to welcome each other into the community. Church people want to know that their clergy believe in these rituals, but I think that clergy put their faith in these things too. Sometimes I think we put our faith in these rituals of the church more than we put our faith in God. Yes, that’s a sweeping statement. But. It’s honest. It’s real. This morning, while our nation observes a moment of silence, I find myself in complete silence wondering what I might hear. I hope that I hear God.